Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

All Distance Pocket Ensign No 1

Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.

Name: All Distance Pocket Ensign No 1
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Metal bodied folding camera, finished in various colours (black, red, brown, blue) in a crackle finish, referred to as "crystalline enamel".
Plate / Film Size: 2 B (E20) rollfilm
Lens: All-Distance with three stops. Marked Patent No 271186 on rim above lens
Shutter: "Synchro" A Shutter, T I B settings
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 6 x 3 x 1 5/8"
Production Period: 1928 - 1932 (See Notes)

When first introduced, the camera was available in black only and was then identified just as the "All Distance Folding Ensign", without the No 1 designation that was added later when the No 2 leather covered version was introduced (c1931, see Notes). Later coloured variants of the the All Distance Pocket Ensign were introduced.

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (colours)

There are at least three variants of the camera body, aside of the colour. The less common early model does not have the "direct-vision" (wire-frame) finder, but there are other differences. Refer to the two blue variants listed below and the Notes section for further details.

Model / Variant: Model No 1 in black finish
Date of this Example: c1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 193

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (black)

Description

Black crackle finish, with orange ENSIGN logo on the outside of front panel. Generally in very good condition.

This example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign No 1 came with complete packaging and documentation. The original orange sales carton shows the camera name, but not the "No 1" model number. The box contains the camera within its black case, which has plastic braiding around sewn edges. The box shows only minor signs of wear along the edges and corners.

The instructions for the camera are also present, with the orange and white chequer board pattern to the edge, and show only slight creasing. The guarantee pack contains two tickets: one for quality assurance and the other warning about folding the viewfinder back after use!

This black example is fitted with the wire "direct-vision" finder and the name plate at the foot of the lens standard identifies it as the "No 1" model, and is therefore likely to date to 1931 or so (see Notes).

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Model / Variant: Model No 1 in red coloured finish
Date of this Example: c1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 648

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (red)

Description

Coloured version of the common black metal bodied folding camera, finished in the red crackle finish, with orange ENSIGN logo on outside of front panel. Generally in very good condition.

Black bellows (original I believe). Some minor damage to the paintwork on front face.

This red example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign camera is likely to date to 1931 or so (see Notes).

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Model / Variant: Model No 1 in brown coloured finish
Date of this Example: c1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 415

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (brown)

Description

Coloured version of the common black metal bodied folding camera, finished in the brown crackle finish, with orange ENSIGN logo on outside of front panel. Generally in very good condition.

Some minor damage to the paintwork on edges.

This brown example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign camera is likely to date to 1931 or so (see Notes).

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Model / Variant: Blue coloured finish
Date of this Example: c1930
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 572

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (blue)

Description

Coloured version of the common black metal bodied folding camera, finished in the blue crackle finish, with orange ENSIGN logo on outside of front panel. Generally in very good condition, with only a few rub marks on the paintwork.

This example came with a matching case, although the blue colour has faded and now looks more grey than blue, but the original colour is still quite obvious where it has been hidden beneath the flap.

This blue example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign camera is slightly earlier than the red and brown examples shown above. There are three obvious differences:

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Model / Variant: Blue coloured finish (early model)
Date of this Example: c1929
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 641

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (blue)

Description

This second example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign finished in blue differs in a number of ways from the previous example. The most obvious differences that are apparent in the photograph below that shows the two side by side, are as follows:

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (blue variants)

Note that neither of these blue examples carry the "Model No 1" designation.

This example must date to sometime between 1928 and 1930, but I have not been able to find any documentary evidence for the colour versions existing prior to 1931 (see Notes).

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Model / Variant: Model No 1 in Silver/Grey coloured finish
Date of this Example: c1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 649

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (silver/grey)

Description

This example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign No 1, finished in silver/grey appears to be a transitional model between the early variant (see #641 in blue above) and the later format equipped with the sports finder. The most obvious differences that are apparent in the photograph below that shows the blue (#641) and black (#193), are as follows:

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (blue, silver/grey and black variants)

This example must date to about 1931, to be identified as the No 1 model (see Notes).

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Model / Variant: Early Model in black finish
Date of this Example: c1928
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 660

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (early model)

Description

This example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign, finished in black is a very early model (even earlier than #641 in blue above) and allows and interesting comparison with the later format equipped with the sports finder (#193 at the top of the page).

There are two interesting features of this example of the All Distance Pocket Ensign that stand out. The first is that this is the only example shown on this page where the makers name and the aperture markings are painted directly onto the shutter face plate, rather than being shown as part of separate plates mounted to the shutter. The second relates to the film spool holders. In all the other examples shown on this page, these carry patent number 281802. However on this early example they are marked as "Prov Pat. No 23500 1926".

The most obvious differences that are apparent in the photograph below that shows the early (#193) and late (#660) examples, are as follows:

Image of All Distance Pocket Ensign Folding Camera (earl;y and late black variants)

Notes

The camera first appears in the BJPA in the Houghton-Butcher catalogue in the 1928 edition (p124) and was identified just as the "All Distance Folding Ensign". The "New Goods" section in the same volume provides a further description of the camera and review of its key features, describing the black crystalline enamel finish. Neither the advert nor the article make any mention of coloured variants being available.

The 1928 advert quite clearly shows the form of the camera without the wire frame "Direct-vision" finder and there is no tripod bush visible on the baseboard. This matches the form of the early blue model above (#641).

The later form designated the Model No 1 is described in the Houghton-Butcher advert in the 1931 BJPA, and is also listed in a 1932 Ensign catalogue at a price of 1 : 12 : 6. I have as yet to find any reference to this model in any catalogues or adverts later than 1932.

Patent 271186 relates to the location of the diaphragm behind a simple lens, and was registered to Houghton-Butcher in 1926.

These metal bodied coloured folding cameras turn up from time to time, but are often in rather poor condition. Edge damage and loss of paint exposing the underlying metal body of the camera is quite a common fault, which can often result in rust showing through.

The blue colour is easiest to find, followed by the brown. The red version proved to be the hardest to find.

Refer also to the page for the All Distance Pocket Ensign No 2, which is a similarly constructed camera but with leather finish.